AFMA projects on track to reduce bycatch
The new seal excluder device, ready to be tested in the flume tank
The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has started a multi-year project to work with Commonwealth fishers to minimise the impact of fishing practices on protected and at-risk bycatch species.
As part of the project, which has received funding from the Federal Government’s Caring for Our Country initiative, AFMA’s bycatch team has been working with mid-water trawl operators to develop a seal excluder device which aims to improve the efficiency of trawling while reducing the interaction with seals.
In May 2011 testing of the seal excluder device was undertaken at Beauty Point in Tasmania and was followed up with at-sea trials with extremely positive results. The project will continue during this year’s winter Blue Grenadier season to further refine the device for commercial use.
The project has also focussed on the development and implementation of seabird management plans in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery otter board trawl sector. Skippers and the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association have been involved in the development of these plans which specify requirements to use physical mitigation methods as well as manage offal to reduce the risk of trawling to seabirds.
Education programmes will also be developed with the aim of improving environmental awareness and fishing practices for Commonwealth fishers.
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